Some in homeless community seek warming shelters, others brave dangerously cold night

Metro has opened shelters for the homeless in the past while temperatures drop into single-digits. (WSMV)

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Metro Nashville's warming shelters may not be opening this winter because of a lack of funding.

Metro has provided the extra beds through warming shelters when temperatures drop below 28 degrees.

News4 spoke with Howard Allen who knows how valuable the shelters can be during the winter.

"I've been many, many times, but they're life savers," Allen said.

Places like Shelby Park Community Center in East Nashville serve as overflow warming shelters.

They're in addition to the Nashville Rescue Mission and the Room In The Inn.

"When they get filled, where can you go? We still have people coming to Nashville to this It City every day," Allen said.

On Monday, homeless advocate organizations like Open Table Nashville learned some surprising news at an extreme weather committee meeting.

Co-founder Lindsey Krinks said Metro officials told her those overflow shelters wouldn't be opening because of money.

"We are seeing this as an emergency, a crisis. There are so many vulnerable people on the streets right now," Krinks said.

Krinks and others are now scrambling to figure out what to do about the problem.

She's reaching out to other organizations to see if they can help. Krinks said there's a need of 200-300 beds.

"We know that if beds aren't open, we're worried about people dying on the streets. We're worried about cases of frostbite and hypothermia," Krinks said.

News4 also spoke with Vice Mayor Jim Shulman who said the city had a cold weather plan in place for this winter, but it doesn't look like it's going to work now.

Shulman also mentioned there wasn't any money in the budget to open a warming shelter.

"I know resources have been tight in this city. I know the departments are working on very tight budgets, but we're talking about people's lives at this point. We're talking about leaving people outside in 18 degree weather," Shulman said.

Numbers from Metro estimate running three shelters for 60 days adds up to almost $250,000.

Mayor John Cooper issued a statement late Wednesday:

"We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable residents are taken care of in a cold weather situation. Mayor Cooper met with Vice Mayor Shulman this morning to discuss this shared priority. Tomorrow, the Mayor’s Office will meet with the Department of Social Services to discuss shelter availability and to receive an update on the impact of previous budget decisions that led to this situation. Together with the Metro Council and Departments, Mayor Cooper looks forward to addressing this situation before any winter weather occurs and will share updates with you." 

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Reporter

Cameron Taylor is a national Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in December 2018.

Reporter

Nancy Amons is an award-winning member of the News4 Investigates team. She has been breaking stories in Middle Tennessee for more than 20 years.

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